Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Neighbors Are Sabotaging My Christmas Light Show”

From the forums:

I want to write the perfect letter letting my neighbors know how stupid and petty they are. This time of year I have a large Christmas light display that has lights, and the lights dance to the music. For the past six years, I have parked my car in front of the next door neighbor’s house during this light show. I am not blocking any driveways and I am not in anyone’s way. I do this so my light show can be seen. The two new neighbors (two different households) have said they don’t want me to park there. I recently learned that the HOA laws say that when residents can park in their own garage/driveway, they are required to do so. I go to work every day and my husband works at night, so we are parked in that spot for about four hours a day during this time of year.

The first time I was alerted there was a problem was when the neighbor left a rude note on my car window “PARK IN FRONT OF YOUR OWN HOUSE!”. I responded by leaving a note on my car window saying, “MERRY CHRISTMAS, I HAVE BEEN PARKING HERE FOR THE PAST 6 YEARS, AND NO ONE EVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT IT. I AM NOT IN YOUR WAY AND I AM NOT BLOCKING ANY DRIVEWAY. I AM ONLY PARKED HERE DUE TO THE CHRISTMAS LIGHT SHOW IN MY YARD. WE ONLY PARK HERE A FEW HOURS A DAY. MY PARKING HERE DOES NOT CAUSE YOU ANY HARM. HAPPY HOLIDAYS.” The next day, she left a note on my car that said “DO NOT PARK HERE!!!” and she signed it “HOA.” I went to work and looked up our CC&R’s and that’s when I found that when residents can park in their driveway/garage, they must do so.

While I was at work, the neighbor moved her car and parked on the street where I was parking. There is no reason for her to park here — she has a garage and open driveway where she can park. She and the other new neighbor were outside making this plan to park in the spot that she didn’t want me to park in. So, this neighbor thinks it’s OK for someone else to park there, but not me. The thing is, she is breaking the HOA rules, and I wasn’t. The rules say no one can park longer than 24 hours at any given time, and the parking spaces should be for people who can’t park in their garage/driveway. I want to write a letter to both of the neighbors asking them why it’s OK for one neighbor to park in front of their house for the sole purpose of keeping me from parking there and why it’s OK for them to break the HOA rules. I want them to know how petty and how selfish they are being and how they are acting like 6-year-olds. I want the letter to shame them for acting like this during this time of year and during Covid. For the past six years, all the other neighbors have loved my light show, and then Scrooge moves in and wants to act like this. We live in a cul-de-sac and the only place to park without blocking a driveway is that one spot. Can someone give me some help with writing the letter? I want it to be written in such a way that it makes them feel about 2″ tall. — Between Light and Wrong

If your car blocks your Christmas light show so much that the integrity of the experience is compromised, it probably isn’t such a great light show after all. Conversely, if none of your neighbors whom you say have loved your light show for the past six years are speaking out against the injustice of another neighbor parking on the street, where you want to park your car to keep your driveway open in an effort to provide optimal viewing of your light show, it’s possible your neighbors aren’t as into it as you think they are. At any rate, YOU are the one who sounds petty and hypocritical. This has been a shit-year and you want to write a nasty note to your new neighbors that is guaranteed to shame them and make them feel 2″ tall? Well, that makes one wonder whether your light show is truly motivated by a desire to spread Christmas cheer or just some good old fashioned narcissism. Either way, continuing this battle over a parking spot is stupid and juvenile. If you want to help make 2021 a better year, extend an olive branch to your new neighbors. Apologize for over-reacting, explain that this tradition of showing off your light show has become a meaningful and important one for you, and ask if there’s a compromise that can be met. If a group of adults seriously cannot come to compromise over a parking spot for a few weeks of the year, take it to your HOA leader and let that person figure it out.

I moved to LA for a job and then met an incredible man there. Our early love felt like a fairy tale. We’ve been dating for two years, we recently moved in together, and he has a job that’s very important to him here which could positively impact our financial future. His family, with whom he is very close, also lives here, along with many friends of his. I switched industries a year into the relationship and decided to stay with him in LA, even though I otherwise would’ve gone home. However, I do not love LA as a long-term plan for us. I have few friends, it isn’t a place where I want to raise kids, and I’m from a very fun, big city that I love and which offers me family, friends, and job opportunities. Plus, I had always imagined raising my family near my own. On top of my own desire to go home, my mother is pretty over-involved and strongly opposes any relationship that would mean I’m permanently away, further complicating things.

I love him, and I deeply want the relationship. I think he has a pure heart, and I do understand the importance of this job. However, this relationship does ask me to give up a LOT (family, friends, sense of belonging, job opportunities) so that he can have all of those things. At the same time that I’m so happy to watch him experiencing his friends and close family, I feel sadness that I could have those things and don’t. I feel like I’m constantly in “his world.” I can make peace with this in the short-term, but I panic when I imagine raising a family under these circumstances. I’m not asking that he move now, but I am saying that after I put some years into supporting his career and possibly starting a family, I want to know that he would look for a job that would bring us closer to my home. He won’t commit to this. He says he will do “whatever is best for us” in the future, and he thinks this should be enough, but it doesn’t settle my fears.

Life is unpredictable, and I’d feel crazy ending the relationship over circumstances that can change when I love him so much. But I also think there are realities to the situation that I am struggling to make peace with, and I know it’s not fair to either of us if I am unhappy or anxious about the future. Should I tough it out and put more time into seeing if I can be happy? Or am I in denial and just trying to hold onto something that isn’t going to work? What do I do? — In Denial?

 
This is much simpler than you think it is. You are looking for some assurance – some commitment – from your boyfriend that he would be willing to leave LA and raise a family with you elsewhere. He won’t give you that commitment. He isn’t even pretending to give that kind of commitment. He won’t even commit to looking for a job where your family and friends live one day, years from now. Do you know how easy it is to tell someone you’re going to do something years from now knowing how much life changes and how little a commitment to look for a job years from now actually means? Be grateful he won’t lie to you and lead you on. Be grateful he is giving you a very clear indication of how much interest he has in leaving LA eventually (he has literally zero interest or intention to ever do this). I know it’s hard, but I’d get out of this relationship sooner rather than later. The longer you stay with someone who doesn’t share long-term goals with you, the harder it is to move on when you finally decide to make the leap.

***************Follow along on Facebook,  and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

31 comments… add one
  • TheLadyE December 10, 2020, 9:58 am

    Legit thought the first post might be Robert the first few sentences in until I got to the “my husband” part.

    LW1, stop being THAT neighbor and park at your own house. Damn. I wish this were the only thing most of us have to be upset about or worry over this year.

    LW2, I have a friend who met her husband on a dating site and moved from NC to LA to be with him. She hates LA, but he grew up there and his family is there. He loves it. The differences are: 1. she works from home and 2. they’re not having kids. Even so, they both agreed they will move somewhere else eventually because she hates it that much. IDK when or where that will be, but she seems happy enough with his willingness to do that for her (even though honestly no signs point to it right now). If you want kids, you have much harder of a timeline than my friend, and your boyfriend seems to not be willing at all.

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  • Rebecca December 10, 2020, 11:20 am

    LW1: …yeah, you’re not being reasonable here. According to the HOA rules, if you’re home, you should be parked in your driveway or garage. Presuming you *have* a garage, park in it, ffs! If it’s too cluttered for the car, either clean it out, or decide that you’re prioritizing storage over your light show. If you have two cars, so that one would need to go in the driveway, move the light show to a blank wall of the house, or pull the blinds over the window and project it there. Either way, stop being an ass to your neighbors.

    LW2: Your desires are fundamentally incompatible, and that’s good to know before anything is formalized. Go find someone who wants to be in your home city as much as you do (but also maybe untie those apron strings a bit–you’re doing this because your mother is over-involved?? Cut that out this instant!)

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    • ele4phant December 10, 2020, 12:38 pm

      So, for LW1’s parking situation, it’s not super clear, but I *think* the OP and her husband both have a car. Normally, they park in the driveway and the garage, respectively. But, during the Chrismtas season parking in the driveway that is unacceptable because that somehow blocks their display.

      She works days, he works nights, so for the few hour overlap they both have at home, the second car gets parked on the street.

      I think, it’s confusing and the answer of course is, make peace with your neighbors, explain you just intend to do this for Christmas and knowing that, is that still a problem for them, and if it is, I mean, reconfigure your display and start parking in your own driveway again.

      Winning the battle of the Christmas lights parking sitaution is not worth starting an ongoing war of grievances with the new neighbors.

      At least not for me.

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  • str8upgirl December 10, 2020, 11:52 am

    To the responses to my post, First off, I didnt write my post the way it is now written. I didnt write it that way, Its been re-written. Second, Its really funny that it was ME who received the rude notes on my car, not the other way around, but you all think I am the problem. My other neighbors came out each night to watch my light show, but i would never go running to them asking them to “be on side” about this parking issue. I would never do that to someone, to put them on the spot like that. Parking in an open spot on a public road should never be an issue unless it is blocking someone else. Its that simple.

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    • Dear Wendy December 10, 2020, 11:54 am

      I made a few edits for brevity and clarity as is my policy with all the letters I post. Anyone can click to the forum and see the original; I’m not sneaking anything, geez.

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    • Copa December 10, 2020, 12:15 pm

      Omg. You’re far too moral and kind-hearted to put people on the spot yet you are going out of your way in the hopes of making someone feel as tiny as you possibly can, and have even tried to enlist the help of online strangers to be as nasty as possible when you do so, because they left you a note? Do you even hear yourself?

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    • ele4phant December 10, 2020, 12:19 pm

      I read your original post, Wendy’s edits did not change the core meaning.

      Look, your neighbors are ALSO being childish. If they had written in, instead of you, I would have told them something similar, stop writing notes with bold caps telling your neighbor where not to park and referencing the HOAs and GO OVER AND TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOR LIKE A GROWNUP.

      But they didn’t write in, you did. So, you’re the one getting advice. Pointing out “who started it” is well, childish.

      You’ve got to let go of what your previous neighbors did or did not like. These are your neighbors now.

      You arguably *don’t* live on a public street, it sounds like you may live in a private development where the HOA can set the parking rules. I don’t know if you parking on the street for a couple hours when you have an open driveway is or is strictly speaking a violation of your communities rules, but it is a violation of the spirit.

      And ultimately, the rules kind of don’t matter. Insomuch that you live in a community, you didn’t get to choose the people you live next to but you do have to deal with them and their pecularities whether you want to or not. Your current neighbors don’t want you parking in front of their house. Rather than antagonize them and quibble over whose in the right or not, I would be focused on my long-term peace and harmony in my neighborhood, and would just have a calm conversation with my neighbors to see if there’s a compromise we can all live with.

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    • FYI December 10, 2020, 12:53 pm

      “Its really funny that it was ME who received the rude notes on my car, not the other way around, but you all think I am the problem.”

      The first note from your neighbor was not horribly rude. It was blunt, but not horrible. You asked us to help you write a nasty note, during Christmas, that would make them feel 2″ tall. When the entire forum thinks that you are out of line, but you are still defensive, that may be something you want to look at. Is there not even a little crack in your defenses that says — maybe they have a point?

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    • ktfran December 10, 2020, 1:25 pm

      I read the original letter posted in the forum and what Wendy posted here. They’re basically the same. I wholeheartedly agree with ele4phant. I don’t think the initial note was terribly rude, especially if the new neighbors don’t know you. Your note back was a little aggressive. I do think you should have gone over there and kindly explained your situation to them and tried to reach a compromise. Instead, it keeps escalating. Not good.

      You’re the one who is parking in front of their house (which, TBH, I wouldn’t care for either but I’d probably overlook if I knew you and you asked). The onus is on you to initiate contact and extend an olive branch.

      Look, I get it. I live in a four-story condo building with three different homeowners. We’re in the middle. The owners above rent theirs out. In August, new tenants moved in. They were playing loud enough music that we could feel the floor vibrating and it was past normal waking hours. We initiated contact. Were friendly. Told them the situation. And the noise is now manageable. Problem solved! Be kind. It works.

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    • Kate B. December 10, 2020, 1:37 pm

      It’s actually not that simple when you have an HOA. If they have a rule about when you park on the street, you have to follow it. End of discussion. I have an HOA that has a rule about when I can park somewhere other than my assigned parking spot. If I violate that rule, I get fined. I hate it, but that’s that choice I made when I decided to live here. You don’t like it, take it up with the HOA. You sound really petty and childish and have no idea what Christmas is all about.

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    • Karebear1813 December 10, 2020, 2:02 pm

      It’s not a matter of who is right and who is wrong. Yes you have the right to park where ever on a public road but you are parking in front of a neighbors home who does not want you there. Find another neighbor to let you park in front of their home. You report your HOA says you need to be parking your vehicles in your driveway and your garage. Go talk to someone over the HOA policy and, if you want, go talk to the police (or a lawyer) about your rights. Make a simple issue more difficult and potentially costly, why dontcha!! … geezzz.

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  • FYI December 10, 2020, 1:01 pm

    For LW2, I confess I don’t understand the need to live close to one’s childhood home. It seems very … unadventurous to me. The “over-involved mom” part sounded much more significant than LW is making it.

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  • Pheebers December 10, 2020, 1:16 pm

    We have a few light displays in my town this time of year, and while I do take my kids to see them, I am also intensely grateful they aren’t on my street. I think it’s assuming a LOT to think your neighbors want that in their faces.

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    • becboo84 December 11, 2020, 10:01 pm

      Yep, I think this probably nails it! Elaborate Christmas displays can be really pretty and are so fun with the kiddos, but if they have blinking lights, etc, they are probably super annoying to any neighbor whose windows face this house.

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  • ele4phant December 10, 2020, 1:29 pm

    LW1 – I realize Christmas is essentially a secular holiday for most Americans at this point, but let’s remember what this holiday is actually supposed to be cemorating – the birth of Christanity’s savior, Jesus Christ.

    What would Jesus want you to do in this situation.

    I mean that seriously, in the spirit of the season, what would the tenants of Christ – the “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” Christ – suggest you do? Write a note a nasty note to belittle those you feel hurt you first, or would the grace of this season suggest you be kind, invite your neighbors over for a polite and constructive conversation, and start over with good intent and empathy in your heart?

    If you say you care so much about the Christmas season, live in not just in your light display but in how you navigate this neighborly conflict.

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    • ele4phant December 11, 2020, 1:04 pm

      I’m an American, but live in an centrally located urban neighborhood that’s long since been established. Definitely no HOA here and it’s quite clear that the City streets are just that – open to anyone in the City. Sometimes I can park right in front of my street, sometimes not.

      I do know there are many private subdivisions out there covered by HOAs that are very prickly in their rules. I would never live in one, but, from her description, sounds like that’s where the OP is. The HOA has both the responsibility to maintain services and infrastructure (like roads) that a local municipality would normally happen, but also the right to regulate them in the way they see fit (like making on street parking rules that are more nitpicky than a City would ever have). And boy, do they ever come up with some doozy rules.

      My mother-in-law used to live in a development that regulated what color *paint* people could paint their homes. She wanted to paint her house a nice sage green (nothing crazy), but they shut it down – it wasn’t a color on their list. She ended up painting her home the ugliest pooh brown as an F you to the HOA. But, it was on the list of acceptable colors. Mind you, this wasn’t a development of tract housing where all the homes where built all at once by the same developer and houses looked the same, so it would *kind of* make sense to regulate house colors to maintain consistency. Her development was one in which lots where sold vacant, and you built your own home. But still, they had all these rules about what you could and could not do with your property.

      Would drive me crazy.

      But, if you choose to live in one of these developments, this is what you’re signing up for. You can always try to join the board yourself and get the bylaws changed…but if the rule of your development is that you should be parking in your own garage and driveway if you have them, you don’t really have a leg to stand on that it’s okay to park elsewhere. These aren’t actually public streets so public parking rules don’t apply.

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  • Fyodor December 10, 2020, 1:43 pm

    The best advice letters are not the ones where
    someone is describing a third party’s crazy behavior but instead where the letter writer herself reveals herself to be crazy.

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  • TheOtherOtherMe December 10, 2020, 2:53 pm

    LW1 – I know you don’t want to hear this, but YOU are the one who is out of line. When you live in a community with an HOA, you abide by the rules, even if you don’t agree with them. Even if the rules are petty. ESPECIALLY if not abiding by them antagonizes your neighbors. So, your neighbors are being a little territorial about the space in front of their house? So what? People are entitled to their opinions. But you are being really obnoxious about not wanting to block the “glorious” light show you have created, even a tiny bit, by parking your car on your own damn side of the road. (It’s JUST a light show, not a national monument.) Also, what if someone else parked their car in front of your house? Would you write them a nastygram asking them to move, so as not to obstruct the view of your light show? I don’t think so. This is not a hill to die on. Do NOT antagonize your neighbors any more over this. Get a grip, and get some perspective. The reason your neighbors are being a little aggressive about your car being parked in front of their house is because you are being self-centered. If you were not so weirdly obsessed with showing off your Christmas lights, they probably wouldn’t even have noticed or cared where your car was parked.

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  • brise December 10, 2020, 6:49 pm

    LW1: New neighbours tend to be more inflexible because they don’t know you and think it is easier to impose rules at once rather than later when they have cordial relationships with their neighbors. It would probably be solved if you ask them the question for the Christmas period.Otherwise it is not so grave if your light show is not on full display 4 hours a day.
    LW2: if you continue the relationship, be sure that you will embrace longterm “exile”. The only way I can see for you to have your BF move is to move yourself, find this job opportunity you are talking about, and start an LDR. Then you will see: are these jobs at your home place so wonderful? Do you miss your life with your BF? Is it really so great at your place? Will your BF make the effort to move for you? You will see.
    It is a bit contradictory to live at one place and not want to live there. Do the move, try and see.

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    • Marie December 14, 2020, 2:00 pm

      I agree on this perspective for LW2. If you feel that stronger about hating LA and loving your hometown, find a job there, move back and see what happens. You’ll either realize A) hometown isn’t has great as in your mind, B) you love your BF more than your hometown, or C) you made the right decision to move back.

      I understand your love for your hometown and family, but if you’re convinced you can’t be happy in LA with a BF that’s firmly planted there, better find out now. I’m not saying break it off, just do the LDR and see what happens. He may dump you, then you’ll also know how important you are to him. He is being honest, and no amount of begging, groveling or convincing will change his feelings about leaving LA, at least in the current situation. If you stay in LA and keep whining, he might dump you anyway. Time for you to put your money where your mouth is and make the move for yourself. Who knows, you could move back in a month.

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  • Ange December 11, 2020, 5:08 am

    Personally I don’t get the weird obsession with keeping the spot in front of your house free for your personal use, it seems to be an American thing as I only ever hear about it there. Public streets are just that, public for everyone’s use so it’s whoever gets there first over here. However, considering you have rules that you should park in your driveway or garage then it’s pretty clear cut.

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  • Mystery writer December 11, 2020, 8:09 am

    Why don’t you park in front of a neighbor who likes your Christmas light display?

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    • Dear Wendy December 11, 2020, 9:14 am

      Great suggestion!!

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    • Phoebe December 21, 2020, 12:37 pm

      Trying to decide if this is to be read imagining rolled eyes or not, then realized it works either when taken at face value or when taken sarcastically. Positively brilliant.

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  • Redgirl December 11, 2020, 5:18 pm

    “Can someone give me some help with writing the letter? I want it to be written in such a way that it makes them feel about 2″ tall.”

    Congratulations. You failed Christmas.

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  • Joan Rivers December 14, 2020, 12:26 pm

    2 – You chose to move to LA! So BF is not making you suffer, you are. You can leave if you want but you can’t force him to. Stop w/the drama.

    1 – Lights follow the MUSIC? You’re lucky this hasn’t been shut down by now.

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  • Griot December 14, 2020, 12:35 pm

    LW1: The way this was written just sounds like some one saying i should be able to do what I want be damn what other people feel. What if your neighbors response was to then park in front of your house every time you park in front of theirs. You would blow your lid. If you don’t want it to happen to you, don’t do it to them. Respect their wishes and the Rules of your HOA
    LW2: I was in your boyfriends position in my relationship. I met a girl that moved to the city i lived for school. We had a strong relationship but she always had the intention of moving back home. For the time I thought that meant we had an expiration date. We even talked about what would happen if she moved back home. I had no intentions of leaving the city I lived in away from my family and friends. She already left and was thinking about going back. If you guys are going to work you have to talk about if you have an expiration. Make it very clear your intentions and do what you have to do. For me it made it easier to have fun with the person until that date ever came. For me it never came. She stayed and now we are a family. For you it can be very different. But i can tell you. Going into someone’s city meeting them and then telling them they have to leave that city if you want to stay together kind of sucks. You shouldn’t just break up with him because of it, but you also shouldn’t stay if it means that much to you. I know this is long but just keep talking about it and if it ends hopefully it will end in a way where no one is hurt and you can live your lives.

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  • bondgirl December 14, 2020, 1:19 pm

    so yeah, LW1 you def messed up by not extending the olive branch first. In most cases if you had just reached out and calmly, politely explained the situation, the neighbors would probably have been willing to accommodate your 4 hour parking request. If this was a violation of your property boundary or the HOA with respect to your property despite multiple polite requests, you might have a valid complaint.

    Instead of writing a letter to make your neighbor “feel about 2 inches tall,” perhaps it’s not too late to extend the aforementioned olive branch. If I were you, I’d butt out of any assumed parking arrangement between those neighbors and strictly focus on this temporary annual setup and hope they accept an apology for any perceived wrong first impression. But…..if you choose to go with the petty letter, just make sure your light display isn’t violating any HOA rules, cuz I guarantee your new neighbors will try to get you nailed for that.

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  • MCarol December 14, 2020, 2:09 pm

    LW2 Often when people have a problem with people parking in front of their house its because its happening every day. Can you switch it up and park in a variety of spots (not the ones of the 2 neighbors who have already asked you not to)? I doubt anyone would take issue if it wasn’t a recurring problem. Sure, your neighbor could’ve handled this better, but in the spirit of neighborly kindess (and Christmas) maybe a short walk from your car to your house is a better solution than a feud?

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  • capster December 15, 2020, 11:17 am

    LW1 – The thing that jumped out to me from your letter was that you’re running a display with lights AND music for hours every day. That’s incredibly selfish!
    Not everyone is obsessed with holiday lights. There’s no way your neighbors come out every night to watch the lights and listen to the music for hours on end. It sounds like a big nuisance. I would have complained to the HOA about it long ago.
    Maybe your next-door neighbors would have been more understanding if you weren’t torturing them with your lights and music every single night.

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    • Kate B. December 15, 2020, 7:12 pm

      Yeah, the only time I ever contemplated having musical lights was when I specifically wanted to annoy someone. I didn’t do it.

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